9/25/2008

Eymet, or The Anglification of the Dordogne



The ongoing anglification of Eymet, Dordogne, France in the press:

The Express: “HOW hundreds of ex-pats, fed up with obnoxious youths, incompetent councils and politically correct nonsense, have turned a tiny village into a very British idyll.”

It is home to ex-pats buying cans of Heinz tomato soup (American), Weetabix (founded by South Africans) and Tetley Tea (produced Indian tea giant Tata) from Kevin Walls’ corner shop, the Magasin Anglais. There are tea rooms, market stalls selling stilton cheese and British newspapers. There are white men in cricket whites playing cricket. Of the town’s 2,600 residents, around one third were born in the UK.

...During the past 25 years Eymet has witnessed a British invasion. Here, it seems, one can manage without so much as an “excusez-moi” or a “parlez-vous Anglais?” If you want to live in France but don’t speak French it seems this is the place to be.

“Most of them don’t speak French,” says Nathalie, a French woman working in a computer shop called MCD Informatique (owned by a Brit) who says 80 per cent of the clientele are British.

...
Eymet Cricket Club celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. The team began playing on the town’s football pitch, with a temporary square created from matting, but the local authorities offered it a ground with stand and nets.

In the Telegraph: Eymet lies in the heart of the south-western French department mockingly dubbed Dordogneshire, with a total British population of up to 10,000.

The first wave of Britons settled in the town in the 1960s, and today it has its own cricket club, a Franco-British choir and even a corner shop selling supplies of British pork sausages and Marmite.
...
There are now an estimated 800 British-run businesses in Dordogne, and 25 of the 300 children in Eymet's primary school are British.

The Guardian: "A report on a popular French TV documentary programme showed one British couple who had still not managed to master the basics of the language after living in France for more than a year...
There are said to be 20,000 Brits altogether living in the Dordogne with the number increasing to a staggering 100,000 during the summer months...While some businesses argue British homeowners and tourists bring money into the area others fear for local culture as the markets and shops cater for the foreign clientele.
...He said older French people worried that the ancient local language, Occitan, had been had been replaced by English, and rising property prices had thwarted local families. "But I tell them, the English have done excellent work restoring our old houses and these houses will stay here after they go," Peyronnet said.

On his candidate list is Julian Urrutia from Ascot, the director of a stone-flooring business, who has a Basque grandfather. Like the others, he speaks French and considers himself "Eymetois". He said

He flinched when, while out canvassing, an elderly British man opened his door and shouted: "What? You're speaking French, I don't know what you're talking about."

Sue Collard, lecturer in French at the University of Sussex's European Institute, is researching the phenomenon of British local councillors in France. She is also standing in her village in Normandy. She said the number of British people running did not necessarily reflect integration into French society. "When you ask people, you find hardly any of them watch French TV. Most read the English papers."



LivingFrance.com: In the town’s arcaded Place Gambetta, you’ve got Karen and Lisa at home furnishings store Kismet, just up from Stephane and Anya at Le Gambetta bar and then there’s Dean at MCD Informatique on the corner. English books and wrapping paper come from the newly opened Frederic’s Bookshop just up the road, Farrow & Ball paint or oak flooring comes from Michele at Fabrica Design and Tony Martin’s Eymet Ordinateurs can supply you with reconditioned PCs and satellite dishes. You could do your entire week’s shopping and never have to speak a word of French...The success of the place is that the English are happy living there ...’ They may not speak the language very well, they may prefer shopping in the English grocers and eating sliced bread, but they are abroad and have transformed Eymet into a vibrant and charismatic place to live.


Expatica:
Eymet [is] a village of 2,600 inhabitants with such a high population of English speakers that one was recently elected as a town councillor.

Says a local French teacher: "We make good use of them as English teachers."
Back in Eymet, the school's director is announcing the opening of a new class, thanks in part to the number of foreign pupils... "Fifteen per cent of the children in this school are English."


There is even an Eymet blog by a British expat, which is as you would have guessed, in ENGLISH.

3 comments:

Ronduck said...

I know that the Schengen treaty allows Europeans to visit other countries without a passport, but does it allow them to live there permanently? Or is the French government allowing this?

Ronduck said...

I forgot to check the box to have follow-up comments emailed to me.

Unfrench said...

The Schengen and other agreements between nation states of the EU allow citizens from the old EU member states to live in whichever member state they choose. Citizens from new EU member states are free to travel to older member states and settle there, but new EU citizens (=living in entrant countries) are still restricted from taking up employment in most older EU states for a few more years. Whatever limitations there were have been pretty much lifted for older EU countries' citizens within the EU except for the 12 new entrant countries.
Unrestricted freedom to move countries has led to less total migration than the EU elite had hoped yet many Britons have seized the opportunity to move countries such as France or Spain.
I hope this answers your question.